You may think of gum chewing as something that gets you in trouble in an elementary school classroom or on the streets of Singapore. However, emerging research suggests that gum gets a bad wrap. In fact, chewing gum regularly may be a safe and natural way to boost concentration, fight cavities, and combat an out of control appetite.
Chewing gum is a surefire way to boost memory, concentration, and overall brainpower, the BBC reports. People who chew gum are able to recall 35 percent more names than those with a still mouth, the BBC adds. Scientists aren't sure how gum impacts the brain, but they theorize that the act of chewing stimulates heart rate, making the brain more active. Also, chewing stimulates the pancreatic hormone insulin, which can improve memory. To get gum's benefits, chew gum during times when you need your memory to be at full throttle, like during a test or oral exam. However, many brands of sugar free gum contain high levels of the artificial sweetener aspartame which has been linked to a higher rates of cancer, the National Cancer Institute reports.
Cavities occur when the bacteria that live in the mouth dine on sugary or starchy foods that we eat. The byproduct of the bacteria's metabolism is an acidic substance which wears down the enamel on teeth. Avoiding sugary foods that contribute to cavities is the best way to keep cavities at bay, Dentistry claims. In addition, consider chewing on sugar-free gum, which can reduce cavity risk significantly. The act of chewing gum stimulates saliva production. Saliva helps reduce the acidity of the mouth and gives the teeth the minerals they need to bounce back from damage. Also, gum that contains the sugar alcohol xylitol blunts the growth of the Streptococcus Mutans strain of bacteria that's involved in cavity formation, Dentistry reports.
More than 25 U.S. states have obesity rates above 25 percent, the Obesity Society reports. While a low-calorie diet and exercise plan are the best approaches to reducing obesity risk, gum may play a role as well. Gum is a low-calorie alternative to satisfying your sweet tooth. A single serving of sugar-free gum contains only five calories, as opposed to hundreds of calories in snacks like cookies or muffins. Marion M. Hetherington of Glasgow Caledonian University found that chewing gum can keep appetite in check. In a paper published in the August 2006 issue of "Appetite," chewing gum before a meal significantly reduced overall caloric intake.